13th Dec2021

‘Devil’s Reign #1’ Review (Marvel Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Chip Zdarsky | Art by Marco Checchetto | Published by Marvel Comics

Oh look, it’s another ‘event’ book. Soon monthly books will probably cease to exist, considering how many of these event books both Marvel and DC pump out these days. Not a criticism, as publishers will just follow what the consumer wants. In the early days, mini-series were a nice side dish, a treat, to have alongside your monthly fix of Spider-Man or Batman. Now, monthly books seem very much secondary, with relatively low readership figures. Big event books, however, always get a readership bump, and therefore the publisher makes money, and everyone’s happy. The only problem for me with that model is you have to keep upping the ante with each mini-series, or finding some angle that’s not been explored, and that gets more difficult every year. Will this be the event that jumps the shark?

Let’s take a look.

We open with Wilson Fisk, now Mayor of New York, on an anti-superhero rant at a press conference. He’s looking to make use of superpowers illegal in New York City, and wants to get legislation rammed through. All seemingly very topical, with a Trumpesque corrupt administration laying down the law, but also with echoes of the whole President Lex storyline that DC ran with a few years ago. It’s obviously not going to end well, but then that’s exactly what Wilson Fisk wants I’m guessing. First to feel the burn is Moon Knight, who takes out the super-cops who try to arrest him, but is then set upon by super-powered agents including Rhino, Electro, and U.S Agent. Others also start to see the effect, one cop even trying to arrest Captain America himself. Chump.

Cap, Daredevil, Elektra, and Spidey all help out and escape into the sewers, where Daredevil makes a big confession. This is all his fault. Well, indirectly. The Purple Man, Zebediah Killgrave’s children had made the world forget Matt Murdoch is Dardevil, and that includes Fisk himself. This has enraged Fisk, and he has done what he always does, gone all-in on his enemies. Dardevil toys with giving Fisk what we wants but Cap does what Cap always does, and gives a stirring ‘don’t give up’ talk. While all this is going on, the Baxter Building has been raided by Homeland Security, the NYPD, and ,er, Dr. Octopus. Yep, Otto has fallen in with Fisk, and is positively licking his lips at the prospect of getting his hands on Reed Richards tech. Reed and Su are blindsided, but Ben and Johnny managed to escape.

Luke Cage and Jessica Jones toy with laying low and getting out of New York until things calm down, but then The Shocker rocks up and Luke has to make a choice. No guesses on which side he lands. After an interesting little face to face between Fisk and his son, the new Kingpin, we reach the bit of the story that is the hook, the part that makes this that little bit different. Tony Stark meets with Luke and Jessica and reveals his master plan, which couldn’t be more American. Use a ton of cash and democracy to get a charismatic candidate elected and Fisk out. If only there was a super-rich charismatic individual with a plan…Well, looks like Tony Stark is running for New York Mayor. That’s the good news. The bad news is, Fisk has seemingly found a way to get The Purple Man’s powers of mind control transferred to him. Not willingly of course. This is going to get very, very messy.

This read a bit like a thriller, and I think Zdarsky is going to deliver a great book. This would have made a brilliant storyline for the Netflix Marvel shows, but their loss is our gain, as it works superbly well. Zdarsky balances the flow of the story nicely, inter-cutting the on the street problems faced by the heroes with the more personal mission Fisk is on. Love the pacing, love the heroes and politics, love Wilson Fisk being the big bad. The art and colouring are a perfect match for the book, the pacing of the layouts being especially great. Checchetto certainly draws some intimidating heroes and villains.

Some ‘event’ books just don’t feel like they need to exist, but this certainly isn’t one of them. This book has a story to tell, and one that will make long term changes for the Marvel Universe New York City, and no doubt for the heroes and villains that inhabit that place.

Everyone’s stuck between the Moon (Knight) and New York City (Mayor). Ahem.

**** 4/5

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